Get the lowest possible car rental rates
Slow travel at low cost
By Patrick Robertson
Last month I shared with you how to get the cheapest airline ticket prices. After booking your plane tickets, the next step is to book a rental car if needed.
Here are some simple tips and tricks you can use to get the lowest price available.
Join all the loyalty programs of the major car rental companies. They are free to join.
There are three main advantages. The first is that all of your information is in their database, so it is very quick to book future rentals. The second and more important benefit is that you will save hours waiting in line at the rental car counter. The third benefit is the promotions and discount emails you will receive.
All the major car rental companies accelerate member loyalty. They either have a separate line for loyalty members with your documents already prepared, or your contract and keys on a notice board near the ticket office or in the garage where cars are parked. Several times I got off the plane and sat in my car within 10 minutes.
I always reserve my car rentals as soon as I have booked my plane tickets. In many cases, it is nine to ten months before departure. I do a search on Expedia to get an idea of the prices offered and then I reserve the cheapest car. As a loyalty member you usually get a one level upgrade, so I always reserve a compact car.
A few years ago, I started booking most of my rental cars through my Costco membership. You are guaranteed a one-category upgrade. It is considerably cheaper than other third-party booking agencies like Expedia. However, most third-party booking agencies are cheaper than booking directly through the car rental company.
The advantage of car rental reservations is that you can cancel the reservation at any time, which leads to this strategy. I keep looking at car rentals for deals. Often at some point between booking and check out there will be a better deal than when you booked.
I reserve the new price and then I cancel my first reservation. It is important to book first, then cancel and not the other way around, as offers can disappear in a matter of minutes. You might cancel and not be able to get the new offer and end up paying more than your first booking.
The longer you book a rental car, the lower your daily cost will be. Per day you could pay $ 40, $ 30 per week, $ 20 per month. In Europe, you can rent a car if you rent for two months and pay $ 15 a day.
Using these tips, I rented cars for as little as $ 8 a day in Las Vegas. I got a $ 200 Escalade per day for the price of a compact. Generally, I reserve a compact and I have the choice of a premium model.
The global pandemic has significantly affected car rentals in North America. When rental car traffic declined by over 80%, rental car companies sold their fleets to reduce their negative cash flow.
As travel began to increase, car rental companies encountered another problem. There were no vehicles to buy to replenish their fleets. The shortage of vehicle computer boards for automakers has forced a huge reduction in the manufacture of new vehicles.
How does this affect the budget traveler? Car rental prices have gone from $ 40 per day to $ 400 or more per day. The simple law of supply and demand. I had a visit from a nephew in August who paid $ 1,800 for a three day rental. I recently did a car rental search on different days at the Calgary airport and there were no cars to rent for any amount.
At the moment, car rental in North America is not a good option for travelers on a budget. For travel in the near future, we will be researching other transportation options like trains, buses, private cars and drivers, taxis or ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. You might even want to try out the private carpools listed on social media like Facebook.
Fortunately, car rental prices in Europe haven’t changed much. Several different groups of my friends have just returned from Europe where they have rented cars in Romania, Germany and Italy and haven’t noticed a difference in the rental rates.
Next month, find out how to save $ 1,000 on rental housing.
– Patrick Robertson is a travel writer and longtime Fernie resident. He is an expert in independent travel planning and finding budget travel deals. Visit my tools page at www.budgetslowtravel.com/tools for powerful planning tools. Like me on Facebook.